Yankees show Indians who's Boss in opener

First baseman Mark Teixieira proved on Friday night that robots have feelings, too.

My MTV uncle, Bruce Springsteen, once taught me you can't start a fire without a spark.

I thought about that in the moments after Fausto Carmona buried a fastball into Mark Teixeira's shoulder blade early in the Yankees' 11-7 win over the Indians on Friday night.

Teixeira, not known for showing human emotion, was justifiably upset. Curtis Granderson had just put Carmona's previous pitch into the second deck in right field to extend the Yankees' lead to 4-0 in the second inning. Before Teixeira even hit the dirt, the entire ballpark knew it was no accident.

That included Joe Girardi. The Yankees manager can be frustrating at times due to a passive nature that can feel contagious. But he let Manny Acta know he wasn't pleased in a pretty awesome face-to-face showdown between the two field managers. The benches emptied; we even got an endearingly awkward double bullpen run-in.

Since Darryl Strawberry wasn't on the field, no punches were thrown and cooler heads prevailed. (My hopes for a Shelley Duncan forearm shiver on A.J. Burnett were sadly unrealized.)

But back to The Boss — Springsteen, not Steinbrenner. For a team desperately in need of a spark after the pride-swallowing sweep by the Red Sox, Teixeira's plunking and the blowout victory that followed is the type of game that can kickstart winning streaks. The Indians have all the looks of a team ready to free fall, meaning the stage is set for a redemptive weekend in the Bronx.

Kudos are in store for Ivan Nova, who produced one of his best starts of the season. He allowed two runs on four hits over seven crisp innings, striking six and walking three. He improved to 5-4 on the season while dropping his ERA to 4.30. As I eluded to in the preview post today, the bar isn't set particularly high for a No. 5 starter. On balance, Nova has held up his end of the bargain.

The Yankees' 11 runs came on 15 hits. Derek Jeter had one of them, lining a double to right in the seventh to move to 2,991 for his career. He now has six games to get nine hits if he wants to achieve the milestone at Yankee Stadium.

Alex Rodriguez hit his 12th homer of the year, a long solo blast into the left-center field bleachers. The home run was measured at — actually, I have no idea because YES didn't find it necessary to mention it despite multiple replays and discussion about the drive.

The only real downside of the night for the Yankees was young Kevin Whelan, who made his Major League debut and walked four of the six batters he faced. Joe Girardi went to get him after walking in a run, which led to a nice moment with Whelan's new teammates and the manager getting the rookie to crack a smile before he walked back to the dugout.

With the win, the Yankees improved to 34-27 and remained two games behind the Red Sox. At this time last year, New York was 37-23 and two games behind the Rays. Tomorrow, the Yankees send Bartolo Colon to the mound opposite Mitch Talbot. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET.

 

Stray observations:

  • Teixeira's seventh-inning double marked his first two-base hit in 29 games. That doesn't seem possible.
  • On Jorge Posada figurine night, Jorge Posada had his first second three-hit game of the season. To put a truly Georgie stamp on the night, he also committed an egregious baserunning error. Good times.
  • I set the fourth inning as the over/under for when Michael Kay would mention Indians catcher Carlos Santana's name and either Paul O'Neill or Ken Singleton would make a uber-obvious reference to the 70s rock god of the same name. It happened in the third inning.
  • Kim Jones reported early in the game that since Joba Chamberlain is a one-inning pitcher and not a starter, he feels he could be ready for the start of spring training. This struck me as one of the most idiotic things I've ever heard. Take your time, hoss. Update: As "long time listener" pointed out below, it was Harlan, not Joba, who spoke of an accelerated timetable. I'm sure he didn't just pull that out of thin air, though.
  • Teixeira, asked after the game if Granderson's long home run was the reason he was plunked: "Oh yeah, Curtis hit that thing to Harlem. I guess on the next pitch he wanted to send some type of message."
  • Whelan? Sanit? Pendleton? To quote the construction worker in Major League: "Who are these f***in' guys?"
  • That said, I cannot believe Rivera pitched in this game.
  • And just to tie it all together, here's the "Dancing In The Dark" video, complete with a fetching young Courtney Cox cameo and some of the worst dancing ever captured on film. The 80s were outrageous on almost every level.

Dan Hanzus is a regular contributor to Pinstripe Alley. He can be reached at dhanzus@gmail.com or via Twitter @danhanzus.

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